2017 IPC World Disability Games Diary: Stef Reid is world champion! by Stuart Weir

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jump1.jpgStef Reid, in the air in Long Jump, photo by Chrissy Grey

jump2.jpg

Stef Reid landing in LJ, photo by Chrissy Grey

Stef Reid world champion!

For the second time Stef Reid jumped furthest at a major championship in the London Olympic stadium. At the 2012 Paralympics Stef jumped 5.28 but because the event was a joint classification 42/44 event, Kelly Cartwright (Australia) won the competition with a jump of 4.38. (As a 42 -above the knee amputee, Cartwright's 4.38 jump was deemed to be superior to below the knee amputee Reid's 5.28). Joint classifications with distance converting to points are complex and ultimately unsatisfactory.

flag1.jpgStef Reid letting her flag fly, photo by Chrissy Grey

The 2017 World Championship was a straight T44 competition and Stef's 5.40 gave her a comfortable victory over Marlene van Gansewinkel (5.29). Stef has 2 Paralympic silvers and a bronze along with two World Championship bronze medals before finally getting gold on the world stage. She said afterwards: "I did my first world champs in 2006. And this is the first time I stood on top of the podium. It's been a long journey and it's really satisfying at the end of it all. I gave up a lot to do this. I made a decision in 2006 to pursue this over medical school, which a lot of people were saying was nuts 'how is a one-footed sprinter possibly going to make it?' But I'm so thankful I did because I can't imagine missing out on this, watching this from my sofa".

She was a teenage rugby player before a boating accident resulted in the loss of her leg. Someone told Stef about paralympic sport but she wasn't interested. Eventually she agreed to enter a race and won easily - which confirmed that it was all "Mickey Mouse". Then in the next race she was well beaten and her competitive nature forced her to take it all more seriously, something she is still doing!

Stef has a strong Christian faith. How, I wondered did that help her process her accident: "I certainly had moments of frustration but never anger towards God. Despite everything I still know in the back of my head that God is in control and if he could save me from an accident like that, there is not much else that he cannot handle. I just believe God's hand was in it. I don't have any bitterness towards it. He knew that this was the only way he was going to get my attention. I am thankful that at 16 I learned what was important in life".

Having an artificial leg, has its lighter side. Once Stef booked a pedicure by telephone and explaining that she only had one foot, asked if it would be half price. No. On arrival at the salon, she explained again but got the same response - "Set price". Stef accepted defeat but not quite.

"I said, 'OK. That is fine but I want you to do everything you do to this foot to my other foot.' So went back there and I had a fairly new guy and he finished soaking and massaging my left foot, I said 'Now this one'. I was trying not to lose my nerve when he is feeling like a complete idiot massaging the lifeless foot. After about 5 minutes I had to give it up as I felt bad for him. He did paint the toenails though. I think I made my point. It tickled me. I had a good time".

Stef is a multi-faceted person - graduate, writer, model, TV commentator. But we have certainly not seen the last of her in an athletics stadium. As she said after her London 2017 victory: "I'd be really disappointed to not do Tokyo. I've had such a good time with Aston Moore over the last two years. He's the kind of coach I think 'oh, gosh, I wish I'd met you when I was 16'. He still has a lot to teach me. And I'm still having so much fun. I'm not ready to walk away from this year".

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